General Comment submission Children’s rights in relation to the digital environment
• Professor Amandine Garde, Law & Non-Communicable Research Unit, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool • Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden, Senior Lecturer, Developmental Psychology and Childhood, The Open University • Dr Emma Boyland, Senior Lecturer, Psychology, University of Liverpool • Professor Emerita Kathryn C. Montgomery, School of Communication, American University; Senior Strategist, Center for Digital Democracy • Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy • Josh Golin, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood • Kaja Lund-Iversen and Ailo Krogh Ravna, Norwegian Consumer Council • Pedro Hartung and Marina Reina, Alana Institute • Dr Marine Friant-Perrot, University of Nantes • Professor Emerita Wenche Barth Eide, University of Oslo; Coordinator, FoHRC • Professor Liv Elin Torheim, Oslo Metropolitan University • Professor Alberto Alemanno, HEC Paris Business School and The Good Lobby • Marianne Hammer, Norwegian Cancer Society • Nikolai Pushkarev, European Public Health Alliance
13 November 2020 Dear Members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, We very much welcome the Committee’s Draft General Comment No25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment (the Draft) and are grateful for the opportunity to comment. We are a group of leading scholars and NGO experts on youth, digital media, child rights and public health who work to raise awareness and promote regulation of marketing (particularly of harmful goods, services and brands) to which children are exposed. We argue this infringes many of the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international instruments and should be strictly regulated. Based on our collective expertise, we call on the Committee to recognise more explicitly the fundamentally transformed nature of marketing in new digital environments, the harms stemming therefrom, and the corresponding need to protect children from targeting and exposure. Without such recognition, children will not be able to fully enjoy the many opportunities for learning, civic participation, creativity and communication that the digital environment offers for their development and fulfilment of their rights. Facilitating children’s participation in this environment should not come at the price of violations of any children’s rights. Before making specific comments, we wish to highlight our support for much of this Draft. In particular, we strongly support the provisions in the following paragraphs of the General Comment: 11, 13, 14, 52, 54, 62, 63, 64, 67, 72, 74, 75, 88, 112, and 119.
We also note concerns regarding provisions that will require mandatory age verification: e.g., paragraphs 56, 70, 120, 122. We call on the Committee to consider provisions that this be applied proportionately, as this will certainly have the effect of increasing the processing of children’s personal data - which should not happen to the detriment of the best interests of the child. The rest of this contribution, following the structure of the Draft, proposes specific additions / modifications (underlined, in italics), with brief explanations (in boxes). Numbers refer to original paragraphs in the Draft; XX indicates a new proposed paragraph. Hoping these comments are useful to finalise the General Comment, we remain at your disposal for further information.
Yours faithfully, Amandine Garde and Mimi Tatlow-Golden On behalf of those listed above
[See full comments in attached document]